Tiger Woods PGA Tour is one of those games where there really isn’t much left for EA to cover. And despite being a great golf game in its own right, Tiger Woods is now a franchise showing signs of age, proven this year with little refinements and a lack of major features. If you’re fortunate enough to be diving into the Tiger Woods franchise for the first time, you’ll find a wealth of game modes, courses, golfers and online features to keep you playing for hours at a time.
Tournament Challenge is where you’ll be spending the majority of your time in Tiger 10, which replaces the Tiger Challenge mode we’ve become accustomed to over previous iterations of the franchise. Here, Tiger tells us some of his favourite tournament wins and shots before placing you in his shoes, attempting to match or beat his scores using your created golfer across the different courses in the game. Unfortunately you have no chance of finishing this mode unless you purchase a max-stats costume (using a LOT of in-game cash or real money via PSN store or Marketplace) as the final challenges on each course often place you against Tiger in near-impossible situations for a low-level golfer. Speaking of such, there are 30 pro and novelty golfers in the game to choose from. Unfortunately the game conditions are significantly more difficult for the rest of the golfers with average stats, meaning there is absolutely no point of you choosing anyone other than Tiger himself or your custom golfer (assuming his/ her stats are maxed out). It’s worth mentioning that the create-a-golfer feature is identical to that of last year: a wealth of options to customise your characters face, or plug in the PlayStation Eye or Xbox Vision camera to put your face in the game. There’s also the usual pages and pages worth of unlockable clothing items (who knew that wearing a watch could improve your putting?) to enhance your golfer.
Undoubtedly one of the biggest, yet subtle, changes in this year’s game is the inclusion of a live weather feed, provided by The Weather Channel (a huge TV station in the US). So if you’re playing on the 4th hole at St. Andrews (and connected to PSN or Xbox Live) and it starts raining at the Old Course in Scotland, then the downpour will be happening in the game too, resulting in slower greens, fairways and generally more difficult playing conditions. This has the opposite effect too. If you start playing a round using live weather feed while it’s raining and it stops, your game will reflect the change in weather mid-game. Of course, this is completely optional but is just one of the great ways EA have used online to enhance Tiger 10, with another being Live Challenges. Building upon last year’s GamerNet instant challenges, EA have introduced a ‘Play the Pros’ option which gives players the chance to play side-by-side with real golfers as they play in tournaments across the world. Did Colin Montgomery shoot a -5 under par at today’s round in the Open? See if you can beat that by playing in the same playing and weather conditions as the pros, and against the rest of the world online. In addition to the online challenges, Tiger 10 boasts a wide range of multiplayer game types than can be played online or off. A personal favourite being Battle Golf, in which winning a hole entitles you to remove a club form your opponent’s bag or return one to your own. Seeing a friend tee off on a Par 5 with a 4 Iron provided a great multiplayer moment.
Another change, again optional, to Tiger 10 is the addition of the Precision Putter. Instead of having multiple putters in your bag for different ranges, you carry just one putter to cover any distance on the green. This can be tricky to master at first, but emulates the putting aspect of the sport better than it ever has in the past.
An unexpected feature and one you’ll be grateful for is the option to mute commentary. Scott Van Pelt and Kelly Tilghman provide the strangest commentary experience you’re likely to witness. Kelly talks as if she has hours to live, whereas Scott shouts things like ‘get some’ and ‘call it’ if you sink a putt. More is needed by EA’s writing and sound teams to provide these guys with more interesting comments to better replicate the real excitement and drama of a real tournament of golf. Thankfully though, once muted, you can sit back and enjoy the stunning visuals of Tiger 10 which have seen a further improvement over 09, such as seeing the waves crash against the side of Pebble Beach’s number 18 or admiring the sandy bunkers at St Andrews.
The real question here is simple: Is it worth spending £40 on a game released just nine months after its predecessor? If you enjoy the occasional spot of golf and missed out last year then pick this up as it has some serious lasting appeal with its enhanced online and multiplayer features. But if you’re a die-hard golfer looking for major new features, be prepared for disappointment.